One of my favorite things is watching little kids interact with dogs. There’s nothing more cute, hilarious and sometimes torturous than a little boy in diapers waddling after a Mastiff that’s 5 times his size. To me, this innocent chase is a pretty good test to know if that little person will grow up to be a true dog lover. As the founder of Waggit – I’d like to think I was just like this little girl, totally in love with and naturally magnetized to dogs.
Doesn’t she look like she’s the happiest little girl on the planet? And the Lab, with its paw so delicately placed over her shoulder? Come on now, how can you not smile and fall totally in love with both of them?
It’s pretty easy to spout off reasons why people love dogs. They’re unconditionally loyal, good for your health and provide endless hours of entertainment with their funny YouTube Videos. Here’s a great one. But what are the not so obvious reasons why we love dogs?
Stop and smell the flowers
When you’re out walking your dog, the fast pace of life, especially for New Yorkers, seems to fade to black. All you have at that moment is a simple mission, some open pavement and a plastic baggie. It’s just you and a loyal companion that won’t talk back and only asks that you clean up after him. Life suddenly becomes very simple and for the first time that day, you’re literally able to ‘stop and smell the flowers.’ When I was out for a walk with Gonzo from the Animal Haven in Soho, it was the first time I was able to stop and look up at the gorgeous apartments one block away from where I work. With Gonzo by my side, I was delighted by the window flower beds, funky architecture and brilliant colors of the buildings. I’d been up and down that block before, but it took having a dog by my side for me to stop, take a deep breath and appreciate it. Dogs may run fast, but they’re pretty good at slowing us down.
Discipline: does a body good.
As much as every kid wants a dog, not all of them are lucky enough to have parents that buy into the “I’ll take care of it…I promise!” pitch. As an adult, I finally realize that parents don’t say no to dogs because they don’t like dogs. Parents say no because they’re wise to the fact that getting a dog means the most responsible person in the house will end up caring for it, and that’s usually NOT the 5 year old that just graduated pre-school. Dogs mean early morning walks in 8 inches of snow, trips to the vet, regular feedings and the ability to plan ahead for a dog sitter while you’re out of town. And as much as this sounds like a headache, the upside is that having a dog carves routine into your schedule. It’s giving you a reason to wake up early, exercise, and leave work at a decent hour. If you’re trying desperately to become a morning person, get a dog – I’m pretty sure that will help.
Thought and care
One of Waggit’s favorite non-profits is Puppies Behind Bars. Don’t worry, it’s not what it sounds like. PBB is an organization that matches puppies with prison inmates who train them to be therapy dogs for Veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan. Waggit’s a fan of PBB is because it goes beyond saving dogs from shelters, it gives dogs purpose alongside real people who need them. It gives people a chance to exercise gentleness, giving and positive emotions. I loved hearing about an inmate who broke down crying after after holding a puppy for the first time. Some words from people in the program.
“It’s made me more community oriented, instead of me me me oriented.”
“I’m a team player now, the dog has helped me become compassionate.”
“I’m more social, I’m not angry, I smile more.”
These are convicted criminals saying this. This is the power of dogs. This is what Waggit is all about. We want to be a trusted community of people that encourage and help each other and while in the company of dogs. We owe it to our dogs to reciprocate that unconditional love they give to us every single day. Dogs make people happy, they change people and give us reasons to be better. Let’s make 2012 the year we’re better to our dogs and ourselves.